Driving a 1954 Austin-Healey 100/4 from Peking to Paris in the June 2019 ERA Rally.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

0018 Magazines, seats, Jags and maps

9th - 16th August 2017
Starting to look for important things !

While I was busy at home cleaning up and refurbishing a lot of the parts I had taken off the car before she went in to Classic Car Clinic for her major surgery, I was also starting to think of some of the important things we will need later on.  If I can at least find out where I can source some of these items, then when the time comes and we need them, I won't have to waste time running around looking for them, but will be able to go straight to the supplier and pick them up.

First off was this month's edition of the Australian Austin Healey magazine that had arrived on my
Our adventure in print
porch.  And in there was an article that I had previously submitted to Patrick Quinn, the Editor, and despite my lack of hi-res photos, he had managed to turn my ramblings into a reasonably coherent article !   So our first article in print is out there !

I then paid a visit to CCC to check on the clearance around our front dampers - We are doing some work on these to hopefully improve their efficiency, (of which more later) and I needed to check how the front dampers were positioned in relation to the steering column.  As I had already taken our dampers off the car and delivered them to WW Shock Absorbers in Brisbane for refurbishing, I had to examine the white car in CCC instead. And we have a potential problem at the front - The steering
Steering column fouls front damper
column runs down very close to the end of the damper, making it difficult to fit our proposed extension on there in order to increase the fluid volume and minimise the heat build up in the dampers when we are on dirt roads and they are working hard.   Our idea is to machine an extra unit that would bolt into the existing unit, thereby doubling the fluid capacity to about 500 cc's in the rear, and increasing the fronts from about 500 cc to maybe 750 cc.  We also plan to add heat sink fins to the body of the unit to increase the cooling, thereby further limiting heat build up in the dampers when they are being worked hard.

 While I was at CCC, I popped in on Andrew and found that he had the new side exhaust all in place,
Side exhaust taking shape
and he was welding in some ducting to help keep heat out of the cabin.  He has used exhaust mounts from a Sprite, and welded them into the extra bracing that he also added into the intermediate sill, so they are well secure, and yet being rubber mounts, and having a good flex pipe section up the front, the exhaust can still move slightly which will minimise the chance of it cracking.

Trial fitting of new seats
Our new Corbeau seats arrived from Simply Sports Cars in Sydney this week, so I took one over to CCC to make sure it fitted OK - Result, it is perfect.   The head rest is not too high for aesthetic purposes in an old car like the Healey and there is sufficient room down both the outer side and the inner side against the transmission tunnel.  They are also several kg lighter than the original seat, as well as being a LOT more comfortable !  We have a 4 way Luke harness to go with these seats and keep us in place over the bumps !

Stunning XK150

On going into the main service workshop at CCC, I found one of my favourite cars - An XK150 in my favourite gunmetal colour, and it was absolutely immaculate - A truly gorgeous car.  No wonder the guys in here enjoy their jobs, working on cars like these every day !

Starting our map collection

Then it was down the road to my favourite map shop at Harbour Town - Coast Maps and Charts.  These guys have a great selection of maps, and I have bought all of mine for my previous trips from them.  On this occasion they are going to have to get some maps in though - They have a good one of W China and Mongolia, and then another one of Eastern Europe from Moscow west, but they have nothing in between Ulaan Baatar and Moscow !!   So they are going to have to source something for us.

Land Rover air filter too big !
One of our ideas for an air filter has been to use an oil bath filter, like was used in early VW Beetles,
or in an S1 Land Rover, as we felt this would provide us with much cleaner air to the engine in the very dusty conditions we anticipate.  Being a Land Rover man, Ashton already had an air filter to hand, and I brought it up when I came back from Sydney last week.  However when I went to see if it would fit in the Healey, it didn't even get close ! There is just so little room in there.   So it may be a case of using an oiled K&N filter feeding into an airbox, and we will just have to be prepared to clean and re-oil the filter every day.    We will keep exploring the options for this one.

Rear axle of white Healey
I also had to take a lot of photos of the rear axle on the white Healey - Ashton has Garth Selig doing some work on our axle in Sydney, and he needs to see how ours will look when everything is attached to it - Dampers, suspension, hand brake fittings, etc .  So I spent a while in the back of the car getting these - It is SO useful having a second Healey being rebuilt to concours condition in the same CCC workshop as our car.  Even through it is a later 3000 model, I am able to see where every thing goes, how it should be done, and what it should look like. I refer to it almost every day !

Remember the little metal tray I found in the boot and realised it was not rubbish ?  When I removed
Our LHD tonneau
the very stiff old leatherette covering from it, I found that although it appeared black, under the hidden edges it was in fact green  - It had obviously been recoloured at some stage.  This is also interesting because according to the copy of the Factory Record provided by the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, Gidget actually had red upholstery to go with her Coronet Cream coachwork - So where this green trim came from, goodness knows - Maybe off another car ?  Nevertheless, it will be fitted to Gidget now !

We also found that our perfectly good tonneau cover ------is for a Left Hand Drive car !!!  Hopefully our uphostery man will be able to change it to RHD without too much difficulty.   And the side exhaust continues to make progress - it is now sleeved through a second pipe, and getting closer to completion.

Fuel filter & water trap
For the moment I am doing a lot of research into not only "how to" do
Small grease gun
things on the internet, but also trying to find out where I can purchase stuff, so I can get my hands on it quickly when we need it.  Some of the items I have been digging out suppliers for have been :- Ideas for matting to use inside the car that we can also use for traction under the wheels whould we get stuck; in line fuel filters (we are going with the larger one with a water seperator bowl as well as a particle filter); anti rust paint for refurbishing things; stainless steel cable ties (for tying heat sink to our
Map reading lights
dampers, and anything else that breaks en route !); low amperage map reading lights for the navigator (ie me !!); small, light, 3 oz cartridge grease gun (so Ashton can grease the many grease nipples each night while I am planning the next day's route !); in line air blowers, as seen at the Healey show and shine last week, to aid cabin cooling; small space-saving size bottles of Inox and WD 40 ; Extra long (1 metre) and extra strong zip ties, for things that come loose on the road !; Braided sleeving to cover
Heat sink panels
wiring etc to protect it from water and heat; heat sink panels at Jaycar, for use on the dampers to aid in dissipation of heat ; Heat sink compound to increase conductivity when fitting heat sink; glues for affixing heat sink; a source of a radiator expansion tank - I found a suitable one on a Mini Moke and then found a supplier in the UK; Found King's Springs to give me advise on how we can best use our leaf springs; Found Hose Suppliers Aust who can provide us with all sorts of sizes of flexible hose for air intakes or cooling ducts.   So a productive time sourcing all sorts of things we will eventually need.

Broken SU fuel pump
And while not running around checking out suppliers, I have been fixing old parts off the car.  I took the original SU fuel pump to pieces - We will be getting two new ones for the car, but as I was unfamiliar with these units, I took it totally to pieces, cleaned it up, got it working, and got it back together - although it needs all new diaphragms and gaskets if it is to be used again. I also found out that not only was the little diode on the top all melted, but also the contact points which make it work were horrible - so corroded and pitted, I am not sure how it ever worked !

We continue to get multiple opinions on every subject - This week it was back to wheels where,
Wire wheels with less than 72 spokes
following our previous research, although we knew steel wheels might be strongest, in the interest of historical correctness and economy, we decided to go with 72 spoke wire wheels. When our wisdom was questioned this week, I noted how many vehicles on previous P2P events have survived (and finished) when using wire wheels with a LOT less than 72 spokes.   It is very difficult as everyone has very valid (and usually technically correct) opinions,  and many people's opinions differ, so sometimes it is hard to know which advice to follow - So Ashton and I discuss everything, and then make our own decision based on research and the best options available to us.

Spotlights all cleaned up and ready
Fuel filter cleaned up
Ashton had found some period Lucas spotlights which I brought back up from Sydney, and with judicious polishing and wire brushing, turned the black nuts into nice shiny brass ones, polished the chrome backs, and painted up the brackets and fitted new screws so they look brand new.  We will also be fitting stone
guards and / or protective film to these and all lights so they don't get broken by rocks thrown up by other cars.   I also found a dirty old in line filter in the fuel lines, and managed to clean that up - We don't plan to use it, but might be able to tuck it in somewhere just in case.

Cracks in steering wheel

The original style steering wheel also needs replacing with a new MotoLita unit as it has cracks on
the plastic and wouldn't last very long. We also need to fit a new stator tube down the column so we can re-fit the horn and indicator wiring - It appears that on the last rebuild these items were omitted. 

Bakelite plug on headlight
Headlights came in for a lot of attention this week - They were really pretty scummy, and in fact the left and right units were different - One even had the original old bakelite plug fitting in there, on the original wiring, and several rusted bolts had been cut off in the past !  They were also sealed beam units, and as we want to run halogen bulbs for a little extra light, we are ordering some parts to change our current units into bulb ones.  We are looking at LED's, and although they use less power, they are quite big and I think in the enclosed headlight bowl they will be unable to get the cooling they need.  We do not intend to be doing too much night driving anyway (far too dangerous with horses and donkeys and ox carts without lights on !!), so halogen bulbs will be fine.

Side lights all clean
I also refurbished all 4 of the small side and tail and indicator lights.  These too were in pretty poor
condition, with the bulbs corroded in the fittings, and overall rather sad.  It took a while, but I got all the bulbs out, got all the spring loaded pins working and shiny, and de-rusted the bodies and painted them in heat resistant aluminium.  They look really smart now, and ready for another 50 years or so !!

Current alternator (pun intended !)
We are also startng to look into the alternator - The one on there is a Lucas unit, and we are thinking of changing it to a Bosch unit so we do not meet the Prince of Darkness on our travels. We are also uncertain of the amperage of the current unit, but are thinking of installing at least a 95 amp unit, if not a 120 amp one.  Lots of research to be done on this first, but, like everything else, it will need to be ready to bolt in as soon as Gidget's bodywork is completed at CCC by (hopefully) the end of September.

Side exhaust getting enclosed
A visit to CCC just yesterday (22nd August) showed the passenger door now cut down to its reduced
size to fit over the exhaust, and the frame for the grill work that will cover the muffler and allow cooling was in place and looking good.  I am discussing with Mal Kelson from the Lotus Club the option of machining a new section for the rear dampers in order to increase their internal oil volume (and this improve their cooling), and we looked at the car close up to start to formulate some ideas on this.

Brackets holding spring
When I went to Kings Springs yesterday, they told me that no one in Australia makes springs like those on the Healey any more - one has to get them from specialists like AH Spares or Denis Welch in the UK - And that is what we did - we have new 8 leaf heavy duty springs to replace the old worn ones that were probably the originals !  But when talking to Kings, they agreed that we should carry just the long leaf from our old springs as a spare - We will mount them in place of the front and rear bumpers on the car.  Apparently it is always the long leaf that breaks, so we can always put the other 7 leaves onto the original long leaf if we have
New spring below, old one on top - Different !
to.  So today I took a big hammer and pry bar and removed the 4 steel clips that hold the leaves together, and after a while, got it apart.  The photo shows how "sagged" the original spring is compared to the new ones - I think we might have just gained another couple of inches of ground clearance !!  I will clean up these long leaves, then take them down to Kings who have said they will check them for us to make sure they are not cracked or anything.  Will also have to get new bushes for the ends of the springs as the old ones are all cracked and perished.

The impossible suspension bolt !
As an aside, look at this photo of the bolt holding the old spring onto the chassis outrigger which had to be cut off to be replaced.  Why ?  Well, the outrigger was bent and rusty from one of the past accidents, but more interestingly, the LH end of the chassis outrigger had the  main chassis attached - Yet the head of the bolt came out the same side !  How did they get the bolt in there ?  Because it was impossible to get it out without cutting the outrigger off !!  Fascinating engineering.

Parcel shelf in black paint
Lastly today I started covering the parcel shelf that I have
Parcel shelf with foam cushioning
mentioned before.  After de-rusting and straightening it, I had given it 2 coats of anti-rust primer, followed by 2 coats of anti-rust satin black top coat, which had then been given a week to dry thoroughly.  Today I cut some thin foam to size and glued it in place, and then tomorrow I will cover the whole shelf unit with
Parcel shelf and leatherette cover
black leatherette, so it looks perfect and is ready to bolt in place.  And if we eventually change the upholstery to red, then I can easily recover it in matching red !!

We are making good progress......!!!

Remainder of the photos are here :- https://goo.gl/photos/A7rXGA6umycY76gY9
and here :-  https://goo.gl/photos/NURsBWJusU7sj2VE6

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Ashton & Giles welcome any visitors, support, and comments as we prepare for our Adventure !